Adam “Squirrl” McClintock has two passions in life: cooking and helping people.
The Marine Corps veteran and Leesburg resident launched his YouTube channel “Cookin’ With Squirrl” earlier this year. McClintock’s videos showcase his original recipes while spotlighting—and feeding—movers and shakers from local nonprofits.
“It’s the experience of cooking a meal, which is absolutely fun for me, and seeing the looks on people’s faces–that alone is very fulfilling,” McClintock said. “And then by doing that being able to highlight a cause and help people, it’s just wildly fulfilling.”
McClintock said he always had giving back at the front of his mind when he created the channel. “Cookin’ With Squirrl” intersperses traditional recipe videos for original dishes like Bacon Fried S’mores Treats and Drunken Squirrl Eggs with his “Philanthropy and Food” series. That series, launched last month, involves McClintock preparing a delicious multicourse meal for staff from area nonprofits while inviting guests to share information about their organizations and encouraging donations from viewers. McClintock broadcast his first philanthropy video in September, featuring A Farm Less Ordinary. The Bluemont-based nonprofit farm provides employment and community for adults with developmental disabilities who grow and sell organic produce.
Last month’s show followed McClintock as he prepared a five-course meal for the nonprofit’s co-founders Maya Wechsler and Greg Masucci and farm manager Kate McDowell using fresh vegetables from the farm. The show not only meant a feast for the team but also raised around $350 for the organization.
McClintock plans to expand the philanthropy series and invite more nonprofits soon. He’s hoping to spotlight the child hunger-focused nonprofit BetterALife in his next meal-for-a-cause video.
The bald and burly McClintock, who goes by Squirrl in his day-to-day life, not just on YouTube, combines a serious love of food with a self-deprecating sense of humor. McClintock got his nickname from a lifelong friend at age 18 in honor of his well-established goofy side—he took the “e” out to fit on a license plate, and the new spelling stuck).
“I got more serious after I joined the Marine Corps. I have this dichotomy in my brain–I have the Squirrl side and the Marine side, and they often conflict with each other,” he said, adding that cooking and filming is an outlet that lets those two conflicting sides work together.
“It’s a little bit crazy but it also has to be orderly,” he said.
McClintock, 43, was born at Camp Lejeune Marine Corps base in North Carolina and spent his early years in Illinois and Maryland before moving to western Loudoun at 13. After graduating from Loudoun Valley High School, he worked as a server and bartender at several Sterling area restaurants before joining the Marine Corps in 2002. McClintock served for four years with tours in Djibouti, Guantanamo Bay, and Afghanistan. Since leaving the military, McClintock has mostly worked in the IT field but has felt the constant pull of the need to cook and feed people. He started experimenting with Carolina-style barbecue sauce at the request of his wife, Vickie, a North Carolina native. McClintock perfected and started bottling his own barbecue sauce and ran a barbecue business, “The Squirrl Pit,” from 2011 to 2014.
But McClintock wanted to take a deeper dive into the culinary world. He got into what he calls “cheffy” cooking when Vickie gave him a gift certificate for a chef’s bootcamp course at Cookology for Valentine’s Day. He was hooked and ran with it, taking more classes and creating full blown passion.
“It really kind of clicked. Those [classes] were the building blocks of me saying, ‘I can really do something with this,’” he said. “I’m not super artistic by nature. I’m a very function-over-form kind of guy, except with woodworking and food. I like to make pretty plates.”
McClintock, whose mother Patsy McClintock was a longtime Loudoun County Public Schools teacher, said he’s always loved teaching and sharing knowledge and had been toying with the idea of a cooking channel for a while. He was inspired to get things rolling when he caught noted chef and YouTuber Andrew Rea’s show “Being with Babish,” which features the star spending time with–and giving back to–members of his audience.
“He literally brought me to tears when I watched the first episode,” McClintock said.
McClintock invested in video and audio equipment and got his YouTube channel rolling in May of this year. McClintock also does livestreams on the Twitch channel and recently streamed the preparation of Vickie’s birthday dinner, including a shrimp boil with potatoes and corn, handmade pasta, New York strip steaks—and pork chops for the couple’s dogs Pork Chop and Willie.
He shoots most of his videos in his cozy Leesburg kitchen and borrows a friend’s larger space for the philanthropy series videos to make room for his guests from the nonprofit world.
“In the end, my entire goal is to feed someone a great meal and bring light to a good cause and hopefully make the world a little bit better place.”
Check out Squirrl McClintock’s gourmet meal for A Farm Less Ordinary and other recipe videos at the “Cookin’ With Squirrl” channel on YouTube. To learn more, go to cookinwithsquirrl.com.
For more information about A Farm Less Ordinary, go to afarmlessordinary.org.